When reading about the Republic of Rose Island (a micronation implanted in 1968, 500m outside Italian territorial waters), I learned that it was attacked, then destroyed by the Italian police forces.

Isn't this an act of piracy?

I was expecting that entities that are on international waters are protected by some international law, and that it is not expected that a country would freely attack them.

Or is it just that Italy could not care less about possible retorsions?

This question is at the edge of SE Law and SE Politics but I am interested in the legal aspects of such coercive actions, more that the political ones.

4 Answers 4


Whatever else it may be, it isn't piracy. Piracy is covered by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, Part VII, and Article 101 defines it:

Piracy consists of any of the following acts:

(a) any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed:

(i) on the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft;

(ii) against a ship, aircraft, persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any State;

(b) any act of voluntary participation in the operation of a ship or of an aircraft with knowledge of facts making it a pirate ship or aircraft;

(c) any act of inciting or of intentionally facilitating an act described in subparagraph (a) or (b).

Note the clause I've bolded. The raid on Rose Island was carried out by Italian government forces, not by "the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft", and for purposes of enforcing government policy, not "for private ends".


I cannot find the Italian Criminal Code from 1968 to see whether they had, or had not, extraterritorial jurisdiction for the alleged offence of avoiding national taxation, but I have found this more modern reference that suggests they might have it nowadays if the conditions are right:

Italy does not have general extraterritorial jurisdiction, although there are specific cases in which it will exercise extraterritorial jurisdiction (e.g., bribery involving Italian public officials and market abuse on financial instruments admitted on an Italian regulated market, even if the offences are committed abroad). Moreover, extraterritorial jurisdiction could be raised – under certain conditions – by dint of the Italian nationality of the perpetrator or the victim, or even when a crime against the Italian state is committed.

  • Would that mean that if the construction was done by, say, a French then it could not have been attacked? (legally at least). Going further: if I (French) decide to build something right outside, say, the British waters I would be allowed to do so? (again, according to the law)
    – WoJ
    Jul 14, 2021 at 15:42
  • @WoJ A French national on the construction may be committing "a crime against the state" if they're avoiding/evading Italian taxes. Avoiding or evading French taxes or being just outside British waters deserve separate questions IMO
    – user35069
    Jul 15, 2021 at 8:10
  • Sorry, I was not clear. What I meant is that Giorgio Rosa was Italian, and the Italian state used the "crimes against Italian state" (= Italian tax evasion by an Italian citizen) as the reason for the take down of the platform. I was wondering if me, as a French, building a platform right outside another country's territorial waters could be taken down the same way (not having anything to do with that country otherwise). In other words,whether the international waters are a lawless territory where everything is legally allowed (I am not getting into political aspects such as retaliation etc.)
    – WoJ
    Jul 15, 2021 at 9:46
  • @Woj This will take me some time, and depending on what I can find out I may post it as a question. Leave it with me
    – user35069
    Jul 15, 2021 at 10:06

Is something located outside of territorial waters protected by an international law?

International law is relevant only to the extent that particular national governments with the practical ability to implement their will take action to enforce it. Might makes right, and international law in the absence of might is just a basis upon which to criticize a country diplomatically, something that many countries don't care about.

There are "law of the sea" treaties which cover various topics (like who has right of way when ships interact and pollution in the form of dumping things into the ocean). But, it is hardly comprehensive and large parts of international law are not really analogous to domestic law and case law.


It was not piracy, but Italy did technically start a war that was illegal under international law. Also, the destruction the Italian military did to the island counts as a war crime, according to the United Nations.

  • 1
    Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Jul 5, 2022 at 20:23

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .